The Mistress of the Dark reveals why she had no problem naming names like Elvis and Jimi Hendrix in her new tell-all memoir — and talks Elvira’s future as she turns 70.
After turning 70 this month, Cassandra Peterson is getting ready to hang up Elvira’s extremely low-cut dress once and for all — more on that in a minute — but before she does, she’s spilling everything about her life so far in a new tell-all book.
“Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark,” out now, chronicles Peterson’s tough childhood and rebellious teen years, followed by her stint in Las Vegas as a showgirl and the many famous men with whom she canoodled during that time, before her eventual her rise to fame as the OG “Queen of Halloween.” Mixing the character’s signature humor with emotional reveals from Peterson’s real life, it’s definitely an eye-opening celebrity memoir and a must-read for diehard fans.
“Well, I have been thinking about it forever and kind of making little notes as I went along, writing little essays and putting them aside,” Peterson explained, telling TooFab she’s said she’s “working on my autobiography” for the past 15 years. It wasn’t until longtime friend, writer and self-proclaimed groupie Pamela Des Barres hooked her up with an agent that the ball finally got rolling at Hachette Books, who released the memoir this month.
The book begins with Peterson recalling her days as an “extremely homely kid,” a far cry from the vampy vixen for which she’d later be known. But, as she writes in the book, she was destined for stardom at an early age — after making local headlines when, at the age of 2, her body was covered in third-degree burns after being covered in scalding water. In the book, she writes that “along with a good amount of skin, all the hair on my head had melted off and my eyelids were fused shut.” Miraculously, she survived and surgeons got to work skin grafting. Even now, she admits it’s “bizarre” to see how she went from one extreme to the other.
“After having all these scars and everything and completely hiding my body from people, not wanting them to see it because kids pointed, laughed, made fun of me, called me names, to then suddenly be running around in my skivvies on stage … I’m not quite sure how I got from one to the other, it’s very bizarre,” she told TooFab.
“I think the most surprised people were my mom and dad. I think I shocked the living hell out of both of them,” she said of her transformation over the years. “They were very happy and proud that that happened to me … I used to say, ‘I want to be an actor, I want to be a dancer, I want to be in a band,’ all of these things and my mom was always very, like, ‘You’re not good looking enough, you’re not tall enough, you’re not this enough.’ It was very discouraging, but I think why I kept pursuing it is to kind of like an ‘I’ll show you’ kind of thing. Like, ‘I’m gonna show you what I can do.'”
As a teenager, she started go-go dancing at nightclubs and for soldiers about to ship off to Vietnam. It’s also when her days as a rock ‘n roll groupie began. In the book, she writes about talking her way into one rocker’s hotel room when she was just 13. She claims his was the first penis she ever saw — comparing it to a “long, skinny worm” — and said she ran out of the room screaming she was a “f—ing virgin” when he made a move.
This incident would only be the first of quite a few famous men who she either made out with, spent the night with or was hit on by — all of whom she names in the book. She locked lips and exchanged numbers with Jimi Hendrix, shared a night of meaningful conversation (and a “long and tender kiss”) with Elvis Presley, had Siegfried of Siegfried & Roy offer to take her virginity and actually lost it to Tom Jones, in a story that has to be read to be believed. And that’s just to name a few.
When asked whether there were any stories she was hesitant to share or elaborate on, Peterson told TooFab that, yes, there were … but did it anyway.
“I was talking to my friend Richard Chamberlain. He and I had worked on a movie a million years ago, ‘Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold,’ and I became very close with him and, and he would always say to me, ‘Whatever you do, don’t write a tell-all book.’ And I’m like, ‘I think I just did,'” she joked. “But I figured, you know, what the hell?”
“You only live once … why keep it a secret?” she continued. “I mean, if I was a guy, I wouldn’t be keeping it a secret. This happened, that happened, if you don’t like it, what am I gonna do? When you get to a certain age, it’s like, what can I do now to screw up my life or not? If people don’t like me because of it — as I said in the book, you know, f— em. I could have been screwing around with 100 unknown people, but I happened to like well-known people.”
While she mentions Nic Cage in passing during the book, she told TooFab she had “quite a fun time” with him. “I sort of saw that going somewhere, but I was married so it didn’t go anywhere,” she added — saying things between them “stayed friendly.” As for the one who got away, that’s gotta be Jimi Hendrix. “I would have liked to have gotten a lot closer to [him],” she said, adding that she was a virgin at the time. “It’s too bad,” she added, “because that would have been awesome.”
Another Hollywood heartthrob who appears a couple times in the book is Brad Pitt, though, no, the two never hooked up. Pitt first appeared in her life while auditioning for a role in the “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” movie, though she recalled him being far too attractive for the part. She then got a call from him when trying to sell her home in the Hollywood Hills — after he got her number from, who else, Nic Cage. Pitt wound up buying her haunted home (seriously!) only for her to move back onto the block and right next door to him years later.
“I had to walk by him every day and that meant I had to do makeup and hair before I walked my dog in the morning and it was just such a bummer,” she joked. “Oh my god, I was walking down the street one day and he was in his garage boxing one of those little overhead [punching bags], no shirt on, just sweat pants. He was getting ready for the movie ‘Fight Club.’ Wow. I remember I started shaking and drooling and he said hi to me and I was like [gibberish]. It was hard to believe. Such a nice guy.”
While Peterson details quite a few spooky situations at the home she sold to Pitt in the book, she’s not sure whether the haunted happenings continued after she moved out..
“I didn’t follow up, but he loved the stories that I told him when he was looking at my house,” she explained. “I told him that weird happenings that have gone on there, and there’s not that many potential buyers who would go, ‘Oh, that’s awesome.’ He was like ‘That is awesome.’ He was the right guy to get that house.”
After four decades in the spotlight as Elvira, Peterson — who turned 70 last week — is getting ready to say goodbye to her alter-ego, or at least say goodbye to dressing up as her. When asked what the future holds for Elvira, Peterson said, “What I’m hoping and thinking about is that I will hang up the dress, not be getting in the character anymore.”
“I hope out of this book comes possible … anything from a documentary, to a movie about my life to a Broadway play about like ‘Elvira: Mistress of the Dark’, of that movie, or anything, and that I can be a person who oversees it, helps write it, put it together,” she continues. “But not having to dress up in the drag, because I really think the character, I’m happy to say, has become iconic enough as a symbol, it will continue to be out there kind of like Santa Claus.”
As for who could play her, she joked the equally-busty Dolly Parton.
Don’t worry though, she’s not handing down that revealing black gown, iconic ‘do and purple makeup just yet. This year, starting September 25, she’ll be hosting Shudder’s “Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special Special” — which will once again see her providing commentary on four films, including her own “Mistress of the Dark,” “House on Haunted Hill,” “Messiah of Evil” and “City of the Dead.”
“Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark” is available out now.
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